Owen Sound doctors’ hostility to strikers is fueling violence against women that has sent 2 to hospital

 “Before anybody else gets hurt, they [the doctors] must take a hard look at their actions and then get back to the table with a decent offer that shows basic respect.” — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President

Owen Sound (28 August 2018) — At least 7 legal picketers have been struck by vehicles outside the Owen Sound Family Health Organization, a marked increase of violence that is a direct consequence of the owners’ hostility to the workers. 

Violence increasing on picket line

“We’ve got trucks and vans barreling through the picket line of a group of mostly women exercising their constitutional right to improve their working conditions and the quality of care they provide,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).

“All this violence is being fueled by one thing: the disdain and contempt of the millionaire doctors who own the clinic,” said Thomas. “I’m sure they’d do something if people were hitting these women with their fists — why aren’t they doing anything as people hit these women with their vehicles?”

7 workers struck by vehicles

Owen Sound police have been called to at least 7 incidents of picketers being struck by vehicles. One of the picketers struck was Patty Coates, Secretary-Treasurer of the Ontario Federation of Labour. Two other picketers were sent to hospital after being struck. They included Tara Maszczakiewicz, an OPSEU member, who suffered a broken foot. 

“Most of the people we talk to support us in this strike,” said Maszczakiewicz. “But there are more and more people who are reflecting the misogyny and hostility of the owners. They’re screaming at us, threatening us, and one man ran over my foot."

“But I promise you this: their violence isn’t going to stop us from fighting for simple decency," said Maszczakiewicz.

OPSEU/NUPGE striking workers targeted by verbal abuse and public threats

“I’m disgusted that the owners haven’t done a thing to stop this violence, or even help the victims,” said Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU First Vice-President -Treasurer. “These doctors swear an oath to help people who have been hurt — why hasn’t a single one of them come out to help any of the people who’ve been hurt?"

“And what about all the parking lot security guards the doctors are wasting a fortune on? Why haven’t they called the police about all this violence?" said Almeida. 

The violence isn’t occurring only on the picket line. The striking workers are facing abusive language and a growing number of threats on news website comment boards and social media.

“The doctors are responsible for this increasing violence, and they have a responsibility to make it stop,” said Thomas. “Before anybody else gets hurt, they must take a hard look at their actions and then get back to the table with a decent offer that shows basic respect.” 

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE